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Temporal Leks as a Mating System in a Temperate Zone Dragonfly (Odonata: Anisoptera) I : Plathemis Lydia (Drury)

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The behavioral ecology of Plathemis lydia (Drury) (Odonata: Anisoptera) was studied at several ponds in northern New York State. Males and females utilized restricted areas of the ponds. Female occurrence was highest during a short time period each day, while males occurred throughout most of the day. Thus, males and females were considered to be highly predictable in time and space. Males returned daily to a traditional area which was utilized primarily for mating. Ali males on one area interacted aggressively with each other to establish a dominance hierarchy. Each individual on the area appeared to recognize and maintain the integrity of the territorial boundaries. The organizational system allowed conspecific trespassers which showed submissive behavior within the defended area. The dominant male had the advantage, relative to the subordinate conspecific at the site, in clasping and copulating with females which flew into the area. The dominance hierarchy on the traditional mating area appeared to increase the reproductive efficiency of the dominant male. Time budgets and analyses of mating behavior of males under various densities are presented and analyzed with reference to a time-energy-maturational-experiential hypothesis for the evolution of the behavior. Comparisons are made between dragonflies and birds and mammals which exhibit similar types of behavior.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y., USA


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